Experienced outfield makes an impact

Minnesota’s three regular outfielders hit four home runs over the weekend.

Senior Sydney Fabian swings her bat at the Jane Sage Cowles Stadium on Friday.

Niti Gupta

Senior Sydney Fabian swings her bat at the Jane Sage Cowles Stadium on Friday.

Emily Polglaze

The Gophers’ three outfielders have been playing together for nearly four seasons, and the group is working together to make an impact in its final season.
 
 
Left fielder Kayla Wenner, center fielder Paige Palkovich and right fielder Sydney Fabian have all contributed to No. 24 Minnesota’s success this year defensively. Lately, the three have also picked it up at the plate. 
 
 
“They’re just gutsy,” head coach Jessica Allister said. “It’s easy to be in the box when things are going well, but it takes a little bit of moxie to put together at-bats when things aren’t going so well. I’m very, very proud of them. They’ve done a tremendous job.”
 
 
Wenner is enjoying a career year in left field this season after playing mostly in right field previously.
 
 
She’s made just two errors at her new position while also making strides offensively. Wenner only had 20 at-bats last season and hit .150, but this year she’s third on the team with a .333 average in 132 at-bats.
 
 
Palkovich has played everywhere from first base to left field for the Gophers but has settled into center field this year.
 
 
She’s set career-highs at the plate this year with 34 hits and eight doubles, and has yet to make an error in the field. 
 
 
She’s also just one home run away from tying her career-best of six in a season.
 
 
Fabian has been a part of the team’s outfield since her freshman year. While hitting in the ninth spot of the lineup this season, she’s set personal bests with 21 RBIs and five home runs.
 
 
“We’ve seen each other grow from freshman year until now, and it’s just fun to see those games where all of us are having success together,” Wenner said. “To have people who have seen you fail, and then to succeed with them, it’s quite the experience.” 
 
 
The unit made a big difference for Minnesota in its series against Nebraska over the weekend, with Wenner and Fabian both tallying home runs in the team’s 6-0 victory on Friday.
 
 
Wenner hit another home run in Saturday’s game, and Palkovich added one of her own in the same inning. Fabian also hit a triple just a little later, as part of an eight-run fourth inning for the Gophers.
 
 
The trio has had to juggle roles in their college careers, but this year they’ve come together in the outfield. The newfound stability has helped the group succeed as its time at Minnesota winds down.
 
 
“The three of us have never really had these positions locked down, but now we’re really comfortable,” Palkovich said. “It speaks a lot about the trust we have for each other.
 
 
When I have Sydney to my left and Kayla to my right, there’s a vibe there that you can only have when you trust someone as much as I do with those two. It’s really special.”